In May this year, a complete and well preserved silver hoard was found in a field in southern Gotland. And just a few days ago, another hoard was found! This time by the farmers of Övide farm in Eskelhem parish. The hoard was discovered when the farmer found some silver coins in a soil dump spread out after being taken away form another site (the original place for the hoard).
The hoard contains at time being of some 650 coins, a huge number of pieces of silver artefacts, raw material, bars etc, and weigh about 1,5 kilo (the investigation is still going on, and the hoard will for certain be bigger in the end).
The youngest coin is from around AD 1130, and the oldest from 8th century. The most interesting about the hoard is the silver bars, melted silver pieces etc, pointing to the fact that it is the remains of a well supplied metal worker or silver smith.
The third week just finished, the picture is getting a bit clear. We have finished and returned the soil of the trenches with postholes. In spite of well preserved postholes in both trench 2 and 3, there wasn't possible to connect them to a clear house plan. Including the postholes from the surrounding area gave some conclusions of possible extension of buildings.
The material from these trenches was very limited, consisted of some animal bones, pieces of iron, like nails, rivets etc, but not much more. It point to that we are dealing with some kind of outhouse, not a manor. Due to the limited material, no dating could be made from artifacts. The construction point to a Viking age dating, like earlier excavated houses of that type at the site. We have got wood/charcoal from some of the posts, giving us a possibility to date the buildings that way.
The other main area of excavation is a bit to the north, and deals with a Medieval manor (picture to the right). So far, we have got very good picture of the house plan, very much resembling the manor excavated some years ago at the site. The two houses seems to be more or less the same size, and have the same layout. A rather rich material, mostly just outside the entrance, give a clear picture of a medieval living house.
Besides the two mentioned areas, we have started on a third area, connected to a house a bit further north. It can partly be seen in the ground before excavation, in the form of a raw of boulders. One of the more fascinating finds from the area is a mould of sandstone with impressions of some different small objects, mainly of tiny mountings for belts. One of the impressions, about 1 cm wide, resembles very much a belt decoration found earlier at the site, made of bronze and dated to the end of the Viking age.
Starting on Monday, we are now entering the second half of summer's field course. We will carry on the excavation of the medieval manor, and extend the area around the house remains in the north.
Two weeks have passed, and we are getting a far better picture of the situation of the excavated area. We started by open up some trenches in the southern part of the settlement area, an area covered with many postholes, and also at a supposed medieval manor in the northwest.
The medeival house is clearly visible, not at least the huge fireplace in the house. We have also got a rather good view of the ground plan of the building, visible by a clear line of limestone slabs being the foundation of the house walls.
In the southern area, several huge postholes came to light under a very thin layer of soil. In some of them, there were wood from the posts, still preserved, giving us a good possibility to use C14 dating. The spatial distribution of the postholes didn't give a clear indication of the layout of a building, while they seem to be part of different buildings. We need to try to find complementary postholes in the close vicinity outside our excavated area to have a chance to interpret the layout of buldings.
So far, the material have mainly been of bones, daub, many iron objects, and some other metal, like for instance sewing needles, and also ceramic.
One of the more fascinating objects so far is a very small fragment of an Arabic coin, just some 2-3 mm big, probably dated to the middle of the Viking age (10th C). It was found in situ by Kerstin Josvoll, and I must say, that was extremely clever, while it was such a small fragment.
The first day in the field is finished! It has been a hard day, taking away a grass cover of some 100 m2 in all. But we managed to finish that work just after coffe break in the afternoon, and even got some time to start to clean the trenches from the top soil. We can now clearly see the stone frame, foundation of the walls, of the medieval house. In the other trenches, several huge postholes are now visible at the surface.
A few pieces of early Medieval pottery, a horse shoe nail and some bones discovered so far in the top soil. Tomorrow is another day, and we will for certain get a clearer picture of the different house constructions, as well as new finds.
Monday 2nd of July, we are finally in the field again, dealing with the history of the deserted farm Fjäle in Ala parish, Gotland, Sweden. Some 30 participants from abroad will be divided into different groups to carry out excavations of Viking Age and Medieval houses at the farm.
The aim of this year's excavations is to get a better understanding about settlement at the farm, giving us a better idea of population size, subsistence and also land use. The trenches are laid out, the equipment on site, and the weather is nice. All prepared for an interesting excavation.
During the 6 weeks of excavations, we will keep you updated of our mission, both here and on our Facebook page.